At the start of the season, all eyes were fixed upon the familiar faces of the Longhorns’ seven seniors.
But now as the Big 12 Tournament draws nearer, the freshmen are finding their own chances to shine.
Freshman second baseman Jade Gortarez walked up to freshman Kaitlyn Washington earlier this week to tell her that she was the Big 12 Player of the Week.
“I was like, ‘Oh really, me?” Washington said. “It’s exciting, and I’m really grateful.’”
Coupled with senior pitcher Tiarra Davis’ Pitcher of the Week award on Feb. 28, it is only the second weekly honor by a Longhorn this season.
Washington is coming off a productive weekend in Lubbock, where she went 7-for-15 with two runs scored, three doubles and four RBIs. She went 1-for-3 against Texas Southern on Wednesday, extending her hitting streak to four games.
“The one thing that stands out to me is I like her takes, even when she’s not swinging the bat,” head coach Connie Clark said. “She’s having really good, aggressive takes, always ready to pull the trigger. She’s able to make good decisions, whether it’s ‘yes, full attack’ or ‘no,’ she’s just taking the pitch, but she’s already ready to swing it.”
Washington tributes her success at the plate to assistant coach Tripp MacKay, who has worked with her on the timing of her swing throughout the season.
MacKay’s rookie products teed off on Texas Tech pitchers all weekend — Washington, outfielder Tuesday DerMargosian, catcher Taylor Ellsworth and infielder Mallory Schattle knocked a combined total of 18 of the team’s 40 hits and scored 10 of the Longhorns’ 24 runs. The quartet held a .391 batting average.
Each freshman brings something different to the table. DerMargosian is a left-handed batter and is also one of the fastest baserunners on the team. Schattle has been a dominant force at second base and recently showed her offensive strength with two hits and one RBI at Texas Tech.
In addition to her increased appearance at the catching position, Ellsworth aided in the 5-0 victory against Texas Southern with an RBI double. She currently holds the
team-best batting average at .438.
While much credit has been given to MacKay, he praises Ellsworth for her dedication at practice.
“She’s really consistent in her work ethic,” MacKay said. “It’s kind of like taking someone and working on their craft — she’s constantly in the cage swinging, constantly asking for feedback behind the plate. She’s just one that takes it to the next level of ‘I want more.’ She’s like a sponge.”
The freshmen will be back in action in a three-game series against Iowa State this weekend, starting today at 4:30 p.m.